Hundreds of 'unwanted' animals have a home at Croc Encounters

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Croc Encounters is home to more than 200 animals rescued from Tampa and across the country.

The park has been around for nearly a decade, and is so much more than just crocodiles and alligators. They also have birds, lizards and tortoises. It's a family-owned facility, operated by the Paner couple and their two "Jungle Boys," named John and Jake. The young Paners are not afraid of alligators, or even holding one.

John and Karina Paner are licensed nuisance gator trappers in Hillsborough County, but they have received gators, and other animals, elsewhere. Some are pets from people living other parts of the country. They bring in nuisance gators found in pools, in front of people's homes, under cars, and in other similar situations. 

Their largest is named Amos, who was truly the first animal in John's care. He took it in from its original owner nearly 20 years ago, back when Amos was barely a year old, and just 18 inches long. Ever since, Amos has been a figure for educating the public about alligators and reptiles. Today, the large reptile is almost 13 feet long, possibly weighing 900 pounds.

Croc Encounters offers a guided tour every day of the week, and self-guided tours are offered on Saturdays. At the end of each tour, you can hold a gator -- if you dare.

Croc Encounters
8703 Bowles Rd,
Tampa, FL 33637